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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

And the winner of our Best of Evil book giveaway contest is ...

J. Mark Bertrand.

Ane, Jess and I each picked different favorites for the scariest author story. It was ridiculous really, but we each had one name on our lists in common and that was Mark's.

All the stories were great though. Losing half a wip, yikes! Cursing at an editor, man. Having a hero go to bed with her husband and wake up with someone else, a writer's nightmare, but there's something truly terrifying about public speaking!

Congratulations Mark. Thank you everyone for playing and sharing your stories!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Your Scariest Author Story May Win You All These:

Here's what one lucky winner will win:

1. Autographed copy of Clark's, Blind Dates Can Be Murder

2. Violet Dawn, Collins

3&4. Autographed copies of Brandt Dodsons, Seventy Times Se7en & Original Sin

5. Autographed copy of: Meissner's, Widows & Orphans

6&7. Autographed copies of Eric Wilson's: Best of Evil & Expiration Date

8. Craig Parshall's, Trial by Ordeal

How to win? Leave your scariest writer moment in the comments section. This can include some horrible mistake you made, some regrettable thing you said to an editor, the time you almost lost your only copy of your manuscript...or whatever.

Ane, Jess, and I will vote on our favorite and the winner will be announced on Halloween.

Thanks for playing. And thank you everyone for supporting Biblical worldview authors.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Um ...

Ted Dekker has some downloads on his site. Interesting to say the least. I wasn't expecting what I saw and heard. I'm a fan of Ted's and really enjoyed chatting with him for his Novel Journey interview. I wouldn't mind interviewing him about this.

Do watch all. Then it'd be great if you'd come back and share your thoughts.

(Oh and don't forget to come back tomorrow to enter the Best of Evil grand-prize drawing.)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Today's winner and a Special Announcement you don't want to miss!

Linda Ruth is today's Best of Evil winner.

Linda wins Rene Gutteridge's BOO and Brandilyn Collins' VIOLET DAWN.

Congratulations Linda! Please email Gina through her profile with your snail mail address.

Special Announcement: Our big Halloween drawing is fast approaching. Here's what one lucky winner will win:

1. Autographed copy of Clark's, Blind Dates Can Be Murder
2. Violet Dawn
3&4. Autographed copies of Brandt Dodsons, Seven Times Seventy & Original Sin
5. Autographed copy of: Meissner's, Widows & Orphans
6&7. Autographed copies of Eric Wilson's: Best of Evil & Expiration Date
8. Craig Parshall's, Trial by Ordeal

How to win?

Stop by Monday Oct 30th and leave your scariest writer moment. This can include some horrible mistake you made, some regrettable thing you said to an editor, the time you almost lost your only copy of your manuscript...or whatever.

Ane, Jess, and I will vote on our favorite and the winner will be announced on Halloween.

Thanks for playing. And thank you everyone for supporting Biblical worldview authors. I'm in awe of how many great people share the vision to expand the borders of CBA readership. God bless!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Today's Best of Evil Winner Is ...

My husband did the drawing today, and ...

Janet Rubin has won an autogrpahed copy of L. Frank James' An Opened Grave and Jack Cavanaugh & Bill Bright's Fury.

Tomorrow's winner will receive Rene Gutteridge's Boo and Brandilyn Collins' Violet Dawn. To enter, leave a comment under today's interview.

Author Interview ~ Robin Jones Gunn

Robin Jones Gunn is a God-lover who has been telling stories all her life and writing them down for publication the past twenty years. A world traveler and mom of a grown son and daughter, Robin confesses she’s still crazy about her husband after twenty-nine years of doing life together.

What new book or project would you like to tell us about?

I’m very excited about a new Sisterchicks devotional titled, “Take Flight!” ( This nouveau devo releases in October and I’m really happy with how it turned out. The idea for this book was simmering for a long time. One of my Sisterchicks, Cindy Hannan, agreed to work on the project with me and voila! We combined a collection of personal life/grace stories along with Cindy’s expert addition of discussion points and questions, whimsical quotes and lots of Scripture references for further study. The book has a true Sisterchicks feel and will work wonderfully as a personal devo or as a group Bible Study book. Cindy and I have been praying that many, many Sisterchicks will be uplifted by this book. Uplifted and ready to “take flight” into all the adventures God has dreamed up for them!

Tell us about your publishing journey. How long had you been writing before you got a contract? How did you find out and what went through your mind?

I started writing 22 years ago when our two kids were babies. I didn’t really set out to be a published writer or dream about someday writing a book. I think my motivation was probably to satisfy a storytelling instinct I didn’t even realize I had. Or maybe I didn’t understand how “bad” I had it!

My first series of six books for toddlers was released in 1985. It took two years and I think 10 or 11 rejection letters. I was ready to give up but one of my friends kept encouraging me to continue sending out the book proposal. Determined friends can be such a gift! They believe for you long after you’re ready to give up.

The day the letter arrived I remember standing by the mailbox, holding the envelope from Concordia Publishers, wondering if I could stand one more “no”. This time the answer was “yes”. I stood there at the top of our driveway for a long time. I didn’t know how to process a “yes”. I knew what to do with “no”, but I didn’t know what to do with “yes”. I started shaking and then I dashed to the phone and called my husband. He said some wonderful, affirming things and then I kept making phone calls. I must have read the letter out loud to two dozen people that day. Miraculously, the words on the paper didn’t evaporate or turn into a “no” during the night. The next morning the letter was still a “yes”. I think that’s when I finally began to believe it was true – I was a writer and I needed to stir up that gift.

The publishing journey with the Christy Miller series started with a distinct moment in a tent. My husband was a youth pastor for over 20 years. While on a camping trip at the beach with our youth group, some of the 13-year-old girls were sitting in their tent reading books rather than going out to the beach and hanging around with everybody else. I asked if I could read three of their favorite books out of the stack of probably 20 books they'd brought from the library. I got in the tent with them, read their books and soon said, “You know what? I don’t want you reading these books. This is not what I want you putting into your young hearts. Do your mothers know this is what you’re reading?” The girls shrugged and said, “What else is there to read?” This was 1986 and the selection of Christian fiction was quite limited.

The girl challenged me to write a book for them. They said, “How hard can it be? We'll even tell you what to write!" And they did. It took two years and those teenage girls brutally critiqued every word I wrote. They changed the book into the kind of story they cared about. It was the best writer’s training course I could have ever taken. If you want to find out if your work rings true or not, read out loud to your potential audience and believe me, you’ll know.

That first YA novel, Summer Promise, released in 1988 and grew into a series of books, followed by the twelve-book Sierra Jensen series, followed by three books in The College Years. Christy and Sierra have been re-released this year in hardback with three books in each of the four volumes. (

The novels for teens are translated into six languages and every week I hear from girls all over the world who have given their life to Christ after reading these stories. What God has done with these books is really amazing. I’m continually in awe of Him. In November I’m going to Brazil to teach at Litt-World, an International Writers’ Conference ( and also speak at several youth gatherings. The youth events are being set up by the publisher in Brazil that translated Christy and Sierra into Portuguese. The publisher said the books are having a strong effect on Brazilian teens in bringing them to the Lord! I can’t wait for that trip!

To finish a summary of the writing journey, (since that was the question, right?) After writing the teen novels I wrote eight gentle love stories in the Glenbrooke series, then three gifts books. I wrote “Gardenias for Breakfast” two years ago as a Women of Faith novel and I’m still working on the Sisterchicks novels. ( So far we have six novels in the Sisterchicks series. In each book two midlife best friends experience an adventure in some part of the world and come home changed because they discover that God is much bigger than they originally thought He was. I guess you could say the theme of the Sisterchicks novels about sums up my writing journey!

Do you still have self-doubts about your writing?

I don’t doubt that God has asked me to tell stories. I don’t doubt that He has uniquely gifted me to shape words the way He might gift another artist to shape a vase out of a lump of clay. What I have self-doubts over is if what I’ve written makes sense. Does it communicate the same thing I’m hearing in my head as I write? Does the scene or the dialog express the thought clearly? I’m always so close to the story that I’m not able to discern how it’s coming across. That’s why I’m still dependent on honest critiquers. I also depend on my amazing friend, editor and agent, Janet Grant. She has edited every book I’ve written since 1988. Janet knows my heart. She knows what I’m trying to say and she coaches me along when I get stuck or off track. Writing isn’t as solitary as some may say. We need an inner circle of truth-speakers.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Of course. But that wave of fatigue or frustration always recedes and I go back to work. If my objective in writing was to make myself look good or gain something like recognition or approval or lots of money, I think I would have dropped out long ago. My objective keeps coming back around to this singular, obedient notion that I’ve been asked to use the gift God infused into my life for the purpose of furthering His kingdom. I can obey or not obey. Whenever I’ve tried the “not obey” option it’s led to a dead end. Life happens inside the obedience. For me, for now, obedience means showing up every day at the computer and “talking story” as the Hawaiians say.

What mistakes did you make while seeking a publisher or agent?

I’ve been doing this so long I don’t know that I made any obvious mistakes because the procedures for contacting a publisher weren’t as defined as they are now. I only recently signed with Janet Grant at Books ‘n Such Agency after over a decade of working with the same few publishers and doing everything on my own.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?

Show up.

Was there ever a difficult set back that you went through in your writing career?

I was invited a number of years ago to work on a large project with another author. I considered it, wrestled with it, evaluated it to the limits. I think in my heart of hearts I knew it wasn’t a good match and the project didn’t ring true to my calling. But I was willing to consider the project and we needed the money. I was floundering as to what to write next and somehow I felt pressured to push forward and be more noticed or something. Maybe not more noticed but more involved in projects that were at a higher level of visibility on the market. Does that make sense? I was being told from outsiders that at this point in my “career” I should be accomplishing more and at a greater level of visibility. Something like that.

So, I verbally said, “yes”, I would pursue the project. Then all the wheels fell off before it came down to signing the contracts. At that moment I felt free and knew that I had been listening to people who were outside my close inner circle of true friends. It was a season of about a year of deep over-analyzing. I expended so much energy trying to convince myself I was supposed to be something I wasn’t.

When I came up for air, we refinanced the house and I knew that the stories I wanted to tell were stories about the value of loyal friends who speak truth into your life even when you don’t want to hear it. That became the theme of the Sisterchicks novels and that’s what I wrote next. Against all odds, that first one, “Sisterchicks on the Loose!” sold over 100,000 copies. Most importantly, I was free to just tell the stories God was impressing on my heart and life.

What are a few of your favorite books?

Bible by God (seriously! I’ve been reading The Message lately and this paraphrase by Eugene Peterson is so refreshing!)

Perelandra by C.S. Lewis

Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ by Madame Jean Guyon

Any book on Hawaiian history. I have an entire bookshelf filled with them. Lingering over one of these treasures with a cup of strong tea softened by cream and sugar is my hobby. When I get to heaven I want to speak Hawaiian. Strange, but true! He Akua hemolele.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has spoken to you lately in regards to your writing?

These two have been on my desk for several months and I keep going back to them whenever I show up to write. After I read them I say, “Okay. What’s next, Papa?”

“But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus -- the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love.” Acts 20:24 New Living Translation

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin.”
Zechariah 4:10a New Living Translation

Do you have any parting words of advice?

I keep coming back to the basics. This is what Jesus told us to do:
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:26

If we bend our hearts towards this one command, everything else comes.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Today's Winner is ...

"So many Books" has won an autographed copy of Chris Well's, Deliver us From Evelyn and
Brandilyn Collin's, Violet Dawn.

Tomorrow's winner will receive an autographed copy of L.Frank James', An Opened Grave and Jack Cavanaugh & Bill Bright's, Fury. To enter to win, leave a comment under today's interview.

Author Interview ~ Rene Gutteridge

Rene Gutteridge is the author of seven novels, including Boo, Boo Who, Boo Hiss, Ghost Writer, and Troubled Waters. Gutteridge has also has been published extensively as a playwright. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University and trained as a screenwriter before becoming director of drama for First United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City, where she served for five years. Now a full-time writer, Rene lives with her husband, Sean, and their two children in Oklahoma City.

What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

Scoop, the first book in the Occupational Hazards Series, comes out in October. It’s my first comedy series since the Boo Series.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

I got the call that I’d sold my first book when my son was five weeks old. It was surreal. The editor was in New York and calling from the airport to tell me the news. I’d been trying to get published for about three years. But I’d been writing much longer than that. I’ve been writing seriously since I was a kid.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Definitely! Most days. If it’s not flowing out like a river, I think, “This is it. I knew it would end sometime. My well is dry.”

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication?

Thinking no news is bad news. Sometimes no news means people are looking at your stuff. But then again, it can mean nobody’s looking at your stuff. You can see why novelists are known to go insane…

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

To write. There are a lot of people wishing to get published who have never even finished a book. Get your craft to a level where it’s publishable, and then you’ll hear the phone ringing.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

Um….I’m stretching my mind here. I don’t know that I’ve gotten superbly rotten advice, per se, but I will say that as I was starting out, I was often times miffed by many successful writers’ refusal to cough up trade secrets. They sort of had this mindset of, “Well, I had to work hard and figure it out, so you’re on your own.” When I teach writing, I give up all the trade secrets, from the creative end to the business end. I want writers to know the business so they can focus on their craft.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

Patience. Checking my mailbox four times a day never made a difference in the time line. (That’s back when they used to notify you by mail. I think they all use e-mail now.) I just never could get a handle on sitting back and waiting.

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

In the beginning, I was eager to get my career rolling, so I didn’t have a clear vision of what kinds of fiction I wanted to write. Or at least I wasn’t sure enough in myself to make sure my vision didn’t get skewed. However, I don’t know that it was really a mistake or setback. You can’t go shoving your way into a publisher demanding to write a certain kind of book before you’ve proven yourself. Or asking for certain release dates. Ten books later, I’ve found my stride and have a much clearer idea of what I want to do with my fiction.

What are a few of your favorite books? (Not written by you.)

Ha. That’s funny. Do people actually answer this question by naming themselves?? I’ve recently read Tracey Bateman and am in love with her books. I’m reading like crazy her Claire series. I also had the pleasure of reading a beautiful non-fiction book, Lessons from the Carpenter by H. Michael Brewer. It’s a short book, but very powerful, especially if you’re dealing with suffering.

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

I’m proud of my first book, Ghost Writer. That was a monster to write, and to tell you the truth, I don’t think I would have the energy these days to take it on! My mind just doesn’t work like it did when I was in my twenties. I’ve got kids and bills and my mind is consumed with a lot more now. I’m also proud of my comedies. I think it takes guts to write comedy, because if it bombs, it bombs big time. And it’s hard to stand up and say, “Hey, I think I’m funny.”

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

That it seems to move at a snail’s pace. As you can see, I haven’t mastered patience yet.

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I write from 9:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. and then from 12:30 p.m. to 2:35 p.m. (This all revolves around preschool and 1st grade with my kids). On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I write from 12:30 p.m. – 2:35 p.m. I do write sometimes on Saturdays, and try my very best not to write on Sundays. It’s hard for me to take a break. I am a bit of a workaholic.

And here’s how I work: I basically write for ten minutes, check my e-mail, write for ten minutes, check my e-mail, write for ten minutes, check my e-mail. But the first thing I do before I start all of that is check the news headlines. I also have a bad habit of cracking and eating pistachios when I write. It gives my fingers something to do while I’m thinking but it makes a mess.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

I envy writers whose sentences read like a dream. They have a wide vocabulary and can pull similes and metaphors from the dust. I think Lisa Samson is an amazing writer. I’ve actually never finished an entire book of hers because I just start feeling so bad about my own writing! She is truly gifted with her words…a true wordsmith. I’m sort of a hack that happens to crank out some nifty dialogue now and then. But sometimes dialogue can carry you a long way! Also, Dickens. My goodness, what a master.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

Definitely. I would love to write a screenplay and see it turned into a motion picture.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Just yesterday. Kidding. But it is a tough business. It’s solitary and it’s grueling and it makes you doubt yourself over and over. If I didn’t feel like I had a higher purpose and hadn’t invested so much of my time in it, maybe I would’ve quit. But I love it and I know God’s using what I write for a purpose. It’s nice to know it’s not all about me. If it were all about me, it would get very discouraging very quickly.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

The reviews and the reviews. Well, not exactly. But you get the idea. When you get a good review, it feels great. When you get a bad review, you feel like quitting. I think what I love the most is hearing from readers. I get a lot of mail these days (at least by my standards) and I love every one of them. Hearing from readers lets you get a small glimpse outside your tiny computer screen. It helps you understand that people are out there and actually reading your books. You have no idea how many times I’ve doubted that…

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

I do a lot of marketing through my website and my newsletter. I keep in touch with readers and I make sure they know how thankful I am to have them. I try my best to be available when my publishing house needs me. Most of all, I try to write books that people will want to talk about at the water cooler and share with their friends.

Parting words?

Don’t let anyone fool you. Being a novelist is as fun as it gets. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it. There’s nothing like getting that book in the mail, holding it in your hands and realizing a dream that was in your head is now out there to share.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Today's Best of Evil Contest Winner is ...

Camy Tang has won Eric Wilson's latest thriller, The Best of Evil ...

Book Description:

“Spare your soul,” he ranted, “and turn your eyes from greed.…”The tattoos on his arms still reading “Live by the Sword” and “Die by the Sword,” Aramis Black is ready for a fresh start. Determined to set aside his violent tendencies, he opens an espresso shop in Nashville and begins to put his childhood memories behind him. The past isn’t finished with him, though. One ordinary day at the shop, a man is shot before his eyes, speaking dying words to Aramis that are all too familiar.Aramis realizes that his path to freedom will demand forgiveness–forgiveness from God and forgiveness of others. Along the way, he must uncover the conspiracy behind a centuries-old mystery and the shocking truth of his mother’s death. The question remains: Will Aramis be able to conquer his past, or will evil get the best of him?

and an autographed copy of Mindy Starns Clark's, Blind Dates Can Be Murder

Book Description

"Blind dates give everyone the shivers...with or without a murder attached to them. Jo Tulip is a sassy single woman full of household hints and handy advice for every situation. Her first romantic outing in months is a blind date—okay, the Hall of Fame of Awful Blind Dates—but things go from bad to worse when the date drops dead and Jo finds herself smack in the middle of a murder investigation.With the help of her best friend, Danny, and faith in God, Jo attempts to solve one exciting mystery while facing another: Why is love always so complicated?"

Tomorrow we'll be giving away an autographed copy of Chris Well's, Deliver Us From Evelyn and Brandilyn Collin's, Violet Dawn. To enter to win, leave a comment under today's interview.

Author Interview ~ Sharon Dunn

Sharon Dunn is the author of the Ruby Talyor Mysteries series. The second book in the series Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante was voted Book of the Year by American Christian Fiction Writers. In between carting children to activities and making pets out of dust bunnies, she has penned a new series due to be released in early 2007 called the Bargain Hunters Mysteries. Learn more about Sharon and her books at .

What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

In February of 2007 my new series Bargain Hunters mysteries comes out with Multnomah. The first book in the series is titled Death of a Garage Sale Newbie. It’s about four women bonded by the need to clip coupons and be first in line at doorbuster sales. When one of the members is found dead after a morning of garage saling, it is up to the other three to figure out whodunit.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

I was pregnant with my oldest son when I went to my first writer’s group meeting. He is fifteen now. I started out doing shorter things articles, skits, plays (and had two more babies). It is hard to measure how long it took to get that first contract. I worked on the book that eventually became Romance Rustlers and Thunderbird Thieves on and off for maybe three or four years. Once it was finished, I think it took over two years to sell.

In the meantime, I finished two other novels which are stuck in a drawer and never to see the light of day. One was a historical and the other was a Christmas romance. In an effort to sell a book, I tried on these different writing personalities and finally realized what I did best was right humorous mysteries. Some of the writing in the books that didn’t sell was very imitative of what I thought would sell, not my true voice. I am glad that the first novel that sold was who I really am as a novelist.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

It never goes away, that self-doubt thing. I turned in my last book and I thought “this is the worst thing I have ever written. What did I think I was doing calling myself a writer.” Turned out my editor thought it was just fine, but I was sure it was the one that would sink my career. My thinking can get so unrealistic sometimes.

The thing that helps me combat that self-doubt is to separate the writer from the writing. When I was doing theater, I had to accept that sometimes I would have an off night or a bad performance, or a role that I couldn’t make work. That didn’t make me a bad actress. Likewise, with my writing, sometimes I will write something and think that it is just terrible, but I have to know that at the core of my being even if I write something that needs lots of polish or should be filed and forgotten, I am still a good writer.

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication?

Placing too much of my identity and self worth in selling a book. My first book almost sold a couple of times and then got turned down. During that time of waiting, I kept saying I was okay if it didn’t sell, but my body betrayed me. I developed a skin condition that I am sure was connected with the stress of waiting. I really wanted that book to sell. My esteem and value was wrapped up in succeeding. As a Christian my value ought to come from being loved by Christ, right? It was a real wake up call spiritually. Having ridden the emotional roller coaster several times, I think I deal with the waiting and the rejection with much more maturity. The cool thing about this business is that there is great opportunity for spiritual growth.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy career. Sorry Bette Davis, I took poetic license with her line. It is a very up and down business. One minute you are the bell of the ball and the next you can’t get a date to save your life. Just because I have a contract now, doesn’t mean I will in three years.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

I don’t think I ever got bad advice, I have been fortunate. I think though that like most people, I didn’t understand what it meant to be a working writer. It is rare to become an overnight sensation with the release of a first novel. It happens, but it is rare. You build your audience over time and with each book. The problem is that we only hear about the big money deals and overnight successes, so everyone thinks that is the norm for the business. In fact, just plugging away, focusing on making the book I am working on the best it can be, going on to the next book and taking care of your readers is how you build a career.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

Did I mention that a writing career is a bumpy ride. I wasn’t delusional, I knew I wasn’t going to be putting in a pool and hiring a maid with my first book contract. If you talk to any writer who is established, they will have war stories to share. Dry spells when they couldn’t sell anything, years of learning to write without seeing any fruit and the number of books they had to of books they had to write before one sold.

What I wish I would have known was that once I accepted that there is very little you as the writer are in control of in the publishing biz, it is a lot easier to function. I am in control of how good my book is and of how much promotion I do. Even if I do tons of promotion, that doesn’t mean my book will be a bestseller. I am not in control of my publisher getting bought out, or of a magazine I write for going out of business or even if my book goes out of print. All I can do is write the best book I can.

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

Twice now, God has taken me on the same journey. Once, before I sold my first Ruby Taylor and again before I got the contract for the Bargain Hunters Mysteries. Both times, I was without a contract and crying out to God, “Why can’t I sell this book? I thought you wanted me to write.”

Both times, I had to come to a place of contentment separate from having a book contract. Both times, I had to decide that yes God does want me to use my talents to write, but right now I need to be a student of the novel. I need to go back to the drawing board and study story structure and character development etc. I am a slow learner, God had to teach me the same lesson twice. In the future, there may be another dry spell. I’m not going to stop writing. I could spend a lifetime studying the novel and learning how to write a better one.

What are a few of your favorite books? (Not written by you.)

Francine Rivers Redeeming Love is at the top of my list. I cut my teeth for mysteries on Agatha Christie and Sue Grafton is one of my all time favorite mainstream authors. I mostly read Christian fiction now, because there is so much good stuff out there. I love Lisa Samson’s The Living End and The Church Ladies, Brandilyn Collins’ suspense and Kristin Billerbeck’s chick lit. There are some new writers whose first books are really promising: Virginia Smith’s, Just as I am, Sharon Hinck’s, Secret Life of Becky Miller and Hope Lyda’s, Hip to be Square.

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

It wasn’t something that was published. I was asked to share at my father’s funeral. Because of his alcoholism and the brokenness that resulted, my relationship with my father had not been close. The first draft of the eulogy was filled with my bitterness. My husband read it and said that I couldn’t share that kind of thing at a funeral. I wanted to be honest, but also needed to be kind. After some thinking and journaling, I was able to see and share the gifts my father had given me despite his brokenness. The writing impacted my family and I understood the cathartic power of the written word. Much of my bitterness fell away and I was able to work on forgiving my father.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

That it is a biz. That means that sometimes a less than wonderful book with solid promotion might sell better than a great book with minimal promotion. I am a bit leery of books that are over promoted, the ones that are touted as being the next great thing. I tend to shy away from those books because my expectation get so puffed up, I am disappointed when I do read the book. I love it when I take a chance on a book that I have never heard of because the cover or back cover blurb intrigues me and I find out that it is wonderful. It’s like treasure hunting.

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

I have three kids and work part time at the university so every day is a little different. Ideally, I try to get the writing done in the morning especially the hard mental stuff like pumping out rough draft. I can rewrite or deal with other writing related stuff later in the day. I found that I can do two and half to three hours of solid hard thinking writing and then my productivity tends to fall off and pretty soon I am spending more time staring out the window than with my fingers on the keyboard. If I do have to write longer hours, I take breaks, throw in a load laundry, make some phone calls, eat lunch on the porch with the sun on my face, or if it summer, I take the kids to park. If the schedule is super packed, it is far better for me to get up at 4 or 5 in the morning than to tell myself that will get things done at night. My brain is mental mush after about seven.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

I love the way Lisa Samson develops and describes characters. Her writing is seamless. As a writer, I am harder and harder to impress because I know story structure, I can predict the dark moment the plot twist the character arc. So when writer or a film maker surprises me, I pay attention. Napoleon Dynamite was one of those movies. People told me it was a fun movie but had no plot. That is not true, the structure is there but you get so swept away by the uniqueness the lack of slickness of the story and truth and humor of the characters that you don’t see the story structure. The movies of M. Night Shyamalan do the same thing for me.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

I am chasing after the perfect story, a story that isn’t labeled Christian or mainstream but that has a message that points right at the gospel without being preachy. Les Miserables is the finest example of that. If I could right something that good, I would be one happy camper.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

I do have my moments. When I see how messy my house is because I have a deadline, I think maybe I should just quit and be a real Christian wife. I always talk myself out of that because I am so nourished by the writing. To succeed as a writer, you have to give up a lot. I have a very minimal social life, my family, my ladies Bible study, lunch or coffee with a friend once in a while.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

I love the conferences, retreats, critique groups and online discussions. Connecting with other writers is a delight. Also, I love the emails I get from readers. Those mean so much. I will never get tired of someone saying that my book made them laugh or cry. I like getting my cup of coffee and sitting down to write, working and reworking a section like a potter works with clay until it sparkles. Sometimes I will find the exact right phrase or metaphor and I know it is unique. That is such a victory.

The only part of writing that cause anxiety is when I have to start a book and I wonder if there is even a novel in my idea. So much doubt. I worry that I will start writing and the plot will fall of the edge of the earth on page sixty. My big challenge in those early stages is to get the first three chapters sketched out and to feel confident that I have started the story in the right place. The anxiety lets up a little bit after that.

Okay, the thing that I hate most about writing…the promotional photo. I have this vision of how I want look, intelligent but approachable. I see the photo and I think “who is that fat woman with the bad haircut and why does she look like she has been sucking on lemons?” Maybe I should find a stand in.

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

When I go to conferences, I make myself go to those workshops on promotion. It’s not my favorite thing. I love the workshops about story structure and character development. It’s easy for me to get overwhelmed by all the possibilities for promotion. I could spend more time promoting than writing. What I came to realize was that all those ideas I hear in workshops and read in writing magazines are just suggestions. I need to pick and choose the ideas that fit my personality a time restrictions. I am not a flamboyant person, nor am I a party planner. I take any promotional opportunity that is offered to me from my publisher and others. I do the basics: a book signing, notifying local radio, television, and newspaper. And I remind myself of that often repeated advice that the best promotion I can do is write a solid book that I am proud of.

Parting words?

Publication, being on the bestseller list, long lines at a book signing all that is the dessert of writing, don’t fall in love with it. You can live without dessert. You must fall in love with being alone in a room with your hands on the keyboard creating a world and people that didn’t exist until you turned on your computer. That solitary activity is the meat and potatoes of writing.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Today's Best of Evil Contest Winner is ...

Robin! Wow, Robin's having a good week.

You've won an autographed copy of Chris Well's,
Deliver Us From Evelyn

Book Description:

"Everyone from the Feds to the mob is scrambling to find the husband of heartless media mogul Evelyn Blake. But no one can decide which is worse—that he is missing, or that she is not ...
Detectives Tom Griggs and Charlie Pasch are feeling the heat from on high to get this thing solved.

Revenge—focused mobster Viktor Zhukov has figured out Blake was tied in with a rival gang’s ambush.

Rev. Damascus Rhodes (his current alias) figures a man of the cloth can properly console the grieving Mrs. Blake.

By the end of this high–speed thriller, some characters find unexpected redemption...and more than a few are begging, Deliver us from Evelyn ...

Tomorrow we will be giving away a copy of Eric Wilson's, The Best of Evil and an autographed copy of Clark's, Blind Dates Can Be Murder. To enter to win, leave a comment under today's interview. Winner will be drawn at random.

Author Interview ~ Marvin Olasky

Dr. Olasky is editor-in-chief of World Magazine, a senior fellow of the Acton Institute, and a professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He and his wife Susan have been married for 30 years and have four sons. He has written 17 non-fiction books and has also started (with several others) a Christian school; he has been a crisis pregnancy center chairman, a foster parent, a Little League assistant coach, a PTA president, and an informal advisor to George W. Bush. He is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Michigan.

What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

Scimitar’s Edge, my first novel after writing about twenty non-fiction books. It’s a story about the war on terror personified in the experience of four Americans in Turkey who face kidnapping; then, those who survive have to decide whether to fight back.

What about the Armenian holocaust captured your interested, and why did you it play such a heavy theme in your novel?

Turkey was the proving ground for the first sustained governmental attempt at genocide, as Turks killed Armenians or sent them to concentration camps; Hitler admired that effort. Since I wanted to set the novel in Turkey it became natural for me to make my hero an Armenian-American and have him explain the history that weighed heavily on him.

So, characterization and instruction went together.

Why did you choose to stage the novel in Turkey?

I spent a month there two summers ago and liked the exotic locations. I also wanted to approach the war on terror metaphorically rather than directly.

What is it you hope the average American will take away from your novel?

I hope it's an enjoyable and stimulating read, and also one that gets readers thinking about standing up to terrorist evil.

Two years ago, World Magazine sponsored a fiction contest with Westbow. Have you noticed an increased interest in fiction among your readers?

Hard to say; my guess is that the interest has been there for a while.

Will World Magazine host another contest?

It was fun, but given our small staff it's not in our current plans.

What's the best way for a writer to break in to World Magazine?

We almost never accept freelance material, but we are interested in developing young reporters. Writers with journalistic experience can mail me (at the address in the magazine) a resume and clips of their news or feature stories; those who show exceptional talent may then receive a tryout assignment or two and be invited to a summer training course for potential World reporters.

Baseball scouts talk about five-tool players: those who can run, field, throw, hit, and hit with power. Our goal at World is to grow five-tool reporters who can discern, report, analyze, write, and write with edginess. Right now we're also looking for the right person to do some movie and TV reviews.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contr
act, how you heard and what went through your head.

I’ve written just about all of my non-fiction books with a contract already in hand, but I spent about nine months writing Scimitar’s Edge and then wondered if anyone would publish it – so the feeling upon getting a contract was largely one of relief.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Not about the non-fiction but about novel-writing, definitely. I’m still not sure that I should pursue fiction further, but I enjoy the process of creating characters and plotting.

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication?

Not getting from publishers enough information about the marketing plan for a book.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing?

Show, don’t tell. All the advice in Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style is good.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

Write when you feel inspired to write.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

Some publishers will accept and publish a book with no plan to spend any of their resources marketing it. They are good publishers for those who do a lot of speaking, with book sales immediately afterwards, but are not good otherwise.

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

I learned twice in the 1990s that books which demolish liberal myths but also challenge myths held by conservatives don’t gain conservative support.

My book Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion is a strongly pro-life book but it shows that the U.S. had lots of abortions in the two decades before the Civil War; challenged the political pro-life myth that our problems began with Roe v. Wade.

Another book I finished during the Clinton-Lewinsky morass, The American Leadership Tradition, profiled thirteen American leaders from Washington on and showed (among other things) that adultery is a leading indicator of untrustworthiness in office. Some conservatives did not like my criticism of Thomas Jefferson or my reporting on sex, so this book also became somewhat of an orphan.

What are a few of your favorite books? (Not written by you.)

I’ll mention several novels, because the non-fiction list would be too long: All of Walker Percy’s work. Gironella’s The Cypresses Believe in God. In current popular fiction, John Lescroart’s work.

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

The Tragedy of American Compassion had the most impact, because it contributed to welfare reform in 1996 and the development of compassionate conservatism and the Bush faith-based initiative. But I like the fictional characters developed in Scimitar’s Edge.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

Requires too much self-promotion. As Christians, we should not be thrusting ourselves forward, yet in this biz he who hesitates is usually lost.

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

Get up at 7:30 and check the news on my computer, go to bed at midnight finishing up email, and in between spend work time largely in non-fiction: I write a lot for World and edit the magazine, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays teach at the University of Texas. My fiction writing time comes when non-fiction seems under control.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

I can plot but I need to work on characterization; my wife, Susan, is strong in that area.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

World has 130,000 subscribers, most of whom are supportive, so I feel I’m writing for a regular group of intelligent folks who know me and look forward to what I have to say. I’d like to develop a regular audience like that for my fiction.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

No, because I was cut from my sixth grade baseball team and realized I had little chance of becoming a major league player. That would have been my first choice of career.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

Favorite part: writing. Least favorite: marketing

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

Very little. Advice, probably bad: Don’t toot your own horn so much that it’s embarrassing to the cause of Christ.

Parting words?

How about, “Enjoy the journey as much as the destination”? Seriously, Eric Liddell said (at least in Chariots of Fire), “When I run I feel God’s pleasure.” Writing should be the same.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Doing Our Best Before We Rest ~ Sunday Devotional

Janet Rubin

I’ve just reread the Creation Account in Genesis. After giving a description of God’s six busy days, it says, “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all His work.” God took a rest. He’d spent six entire days, universe-creating—speaking into existence frogs and camels, dandelions and oak trees, volcanoes and deserts. Everything we see and many things we don’t. I’d say that was a pretty productive week, wouldn’t you? God deserved a rest and He took one because it was time to do so.

If the verse was about me, it might read something like this: “And at 8:00 a.m. , after Janet had hauled herself out of bed and brewed a pot of coffee, she rested at her computer reading email for an hour.” Or, “Exhausted from typing one paragraph, Janet spent the next two hours reading blogs.” See the difference? The God-like thing to do is to actually do some work—some brain-straining, keyboard-pounding work, before rewarding one’s self with a rest.

Once God created the world, He gave Adam, the first man, a job. Genesis 2:15 says,
“Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it.”
This is before sin entered the world, so Adam’s assignment as garden-tender couldn’t have been some kind of punishment or consequence of sin. The world was still perfect. Just like everything else, work was created by God. And just like everything else He created, it was good. Work is a gift from God, something in which we can experience joy and find satisfaction. Rest is His gift too. We need His help to be disciplined and wise enough to know when to work and when to take a break.

Lord, I admit it. I waste a lot of time and take a lot of breaks I haven’t earned. Please help me not to be lazy and distracted from working wholeheartedly for You. Thank you for providing a day of rest to refresh me each week. Amen

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A few words with a newly contracted author...

Robin Miller who writes under the pen name, Robin Carroll, was just awarded her first contract on a novel. While the exitement was still fresh, we thought we'd ask her a few questions. Once the book is closer to release, we'll interview her in depth.

Robin, you just received a contract from Steeple Hill. Did you submit through an agent?

I met with Krista Stroever at RWA National at the end of July and pitched Bayou Burning to her. She requested the full manuscript. I told my agent, awesome Kelly Mortimer, and she line-edited the manuscript, and then we submitted it to Krista.

How did you choose your agent?

I chose my agent carefully. I talked to her clients, I asked people in the industry about her. Then, I talked with her on the phone after she’d requested the full. We “clicked” and she offered representation on that manuscript.

How did you hear about the contract?

My agent called me. I know I squealed and screamed, then I cried. Then I called my husband.

How long did you wait between submitting and hearing?

Thanks to USPS delivery confirmation, Krista received the full manuscript on September 18th. I got the call exactly one month later…October 18th.

Did you know it was going to editorial committee and/or pub board?

I didn’t know.

What are you working on now?

Um, letting it soak in….choosing a pen name. And I'll start working on the sequel to it when my mind works again.

Congratulations, Robin! When Robin's new website will be
In the meantime, you can go to

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Word About Websites

We expect business owners to have a website. As a writer, this is no different for you.

Here are a couple of thoughts for you to consider.

1.) Register your Fiction readers find an author they love and stick to them. Don't depend solely on your agent or publisher to host you on their site—though it's nice that they feature you. You need a site where all your books, with all your publishers, are listed.

2.) It's a wise idea to purchase your when you first start to cause some ripples. There are those who register names and then squat on them. I know someone who paid $150 to get their name back from an otherwise empty website.

3.) If you're best-selling, I suggest registering and too. This will prevent people from using your popularity. You can always have those sites directed to your dot-com.

4.) Keep it simple. Make it easy for media to find: bio, photo, reviews, interviews, etc. Below are some good examples.

5.) Brand yourself. Your website should match your genre. Click on the sites below and you'll under pretty quickly what these authors write.


6.) As much as possible, keep it simple. You're trying to balance die-hard fans, people who have never read you, and media interested in featuring you. I think the best website I've seen balancing all of these is Tracey Chevalier's. Her opening page doesn't necessary brand her, but follow the links to each one of her books and you'll see how no matter who you are, you'll find what you want.

While we're on the topic, anyone have more suggestions, or know a good designer?

Today's Best of Evil Contest winner is ...

Chris Mikesell

Chris wins Brandt Dodson's Original Sin and Seventy Times Seven.

The next fast–paced suspense novel in the Colton Parker Mystery series, from Brandt Dodson, author of Original Sin. Lester Cheek had everything a man could want. A beautiful home, thriving business and money to burn. But he was alone – very alone. Until he met Claudia. The attractive and effervescent Claudia was everything that Lester could hope for. But then, she mysteriously disappears and Colton Parker is hired to find her.

When FBI agent Colton Parker is fired from the force, his first job as a private detective begins with the tragic murder of Emma Caine—an upstanding high school guidance counselor—found dead and all the evidence pointing to her nephew, Billy Caine. His girlfriend, Angie Howe, doesn't believe it. Colton has his doubts.

On Monday, we'll be giving away Chris Well's Deliver Us From Evelyn.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Today's Best of Evil Contest winner is ...

Matt E. Please email Gina through her profile with your snail mail address.
Matt has won copies of Trial by Ordeal by Craig Parshall and Widows & Orphans by Susan Meissner.

Sweating in a hot cauldron of lawsuits, red tape, and Mafia threats is history professor Kevin Hastings. The young, modestly successful professor stumbled across just the right investment property in downtown Chicago. And met just the right buyer for it, he thought. But when you’re a little guy running with the big guys, you gotta be careful you don’t end up squished. Kevin’s real–estate lawyer gave him bum advice. His buyer turned out to be a mob boss. And his new attorney is a legal torture expert, putting everybody—including Kevin—through an all–but–medieval ordeal–at–law. Booted out of his apartment and on the run, Kevin ends up at a rescue mission—another torment. There’s no way things could get worse...right?

Widows and Orphans is the debut novel in the new Rachael Flynn mystery series by critically acclaimed author, Susan Meissner. The perfect new series for readers who enjoy CBA authors Dee Henderson, Angela Hunt, and Brandilyn Collins. When her ultra–ministry–minded brother, Joshua, confesses to murder, lawyer Rachael Flynn begs him to let her represent him, certain that he is innocent. But Joshua refuses her offer of counsel. As Rachael works on the case, she begins to suspect that Josh knows who the real killer is, but she is unable to get him to cooperate with his defense. Why won’t he talk to her? What is Josh hiding? The answer is revealed in a stunning conclusion that will have readers eager for the second book in this gripping new series.

Tomorrow, we'll be giving away Brandt Dodson's Original Sin and Seventy Times Seven

Author Interview ~ Craig Parshall

Craig Parshall is a highly successful lawyer from the Washington, DC, area and the author of the popular Chambers of Justice series of legal thrillers. With his wife, Janet, he has also authored the historical novel Crown of Fire, which takes place in the 1500s against the turbulent backdrop of the Scottish Reformation.
Read another
interview with Craig Parshall.

What new book or project would you like to tell us about?

How about my latest novel, Trial by Ordeal … it was released recently. That was a different kind of a novel for me. I had written six fiction books before that one; five were in the genre of “legal suspense” and one was a historical novel co-authored with my wife Janet. But Ordeal was unique. True, it was chock full of lawyers, legal entanglements, and courtroom drama like my other novels. But in this one, I decided to write it from the perspective of the client rather than the lawyer. The point was to show how an unwary client who is a novice to our adversarial system of justice can really be run through the wash-rinse-and-spin cycle and come out feeling pretty battered and bruised.

My aim wasn’t to lambaste the legal system – but to show how it can operate in reality, “warts and all.” I also wanted to show, though, how lawyers – when they are righteous “champions” in the good sense – can make a good but flawed system work excellently. And, of course, I also wanted to tell a good story, so I put the whole thing in a context of a down-on-his-luck-college professor as-jilted-lover who gets tangled up with the Chicago mob, tripped up by unethical (or simply uncaring) lawyers, and nearly swallowed up by a legal system that operates by rules that seem illogical (at a minimum).

Publishers Weekly gave me a good review, and commented on the fact that I must have had fun writing Trial by Ordeal – which I clearly did. The other thing is the fact that I decided to write it in a first-person narrative, a first for me. It is a style that I found enjoyable for this kind of story. I would like to try it again.

Tell us about your publishing journey. How long had you been writing before you got a contract? How did you find out and what went through your mind?

As an undergraduate at a large university I took some writing classes. In one of them, the professor chose my short story to read out loud in class (I experienced a massive, instantaneous dose of both elation and confused embarrassment). Then he asked me to stay after class. He asked me if I had given any thought to a career in fiction writing. I told him I had given it some thought, but was fond of eating on a regular basis so I had some hesitation about that path.

I later dabbled in journalistic writing, as the editor of our college newspaper and a reporter for a local newspaper. But in the end, I chose to go to law school and the only creative writing I did was to pen a short story for my family every Christmas. Fast forward 30 years – I had co-authored two non-fiction books with my wife, Janet, so I had a relationship of sorts with the publisher of one of them, Harvest House. Frankly, her celebrity as a radio talk show host made her an easy target for publishing (coupled with her powerful communication gifts), and so I got an easy “pass” for those contracts. But the hunger to write creatively had never really died.

Then, approaching the age of 50, something clicked with me – a convergence of several things, including a crisis or two – and I decided it was publish or perish. I sat down to write The Resurrection File on “spec.” It took me about a year. Then I plunked it down on the table in front of the editors of Harvest House. I had a great relationship with them based on the nonfiction books – but I could see the incredulity on their faces. In fact, they went so far as to have it read by an independent fiction editor who had done some general market stuff. The response was not only a contract for that novel, but an entire series!

For me, it was not just a moment of professional or creative satisfaction, it was a spiritual experience. I had thought (but wasn’t fully convinced) that I had some God-gifted talent in fiction writing. But a little like Moses in the desert for 40 years, I had to “wait the wait” until the timing was right, and probably also for my life experiences to inform my writing. By the way, I recently received a copy of The Resurrection File …translated into Dutch! There was something awesome about looking at the book that started it, and leafing through it in a foreign language I couldn’t begin to understand.

Do you still have self-doubts about your writing?

Yes, but in a different way. I am beginning to know where I am solid, as well as the places I still need work. I don’t (as I used to do) have a problem identifying myself as a writer. But I don’t look at that as a profession – instead I see that title as a process.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

I do remember decades before ever getting a writing contract, having ceremoniously thrown in the trash a number of un-submitted manuscripts (none completed by the way) because I had found it too difficult to manage my law practice and my writing, and figured the later had to go.

What mistakes did you make while seeking a publisher or agent?

I used to view agents like the attendants who smile, take your ticket at the airport gate, and then send you down the chute to the plane. In other words, your manuscript is the ticket, and they live and breathe to get you flying. Wrong! Agents are more like the security screeners at the airport – they sometimes over (but more often under) inspect your writing, looking for some reason to delay your upward mobility.

The reason is clear: they don’t get paid unless your work can create a contract, from which they collect a percentage. They will have limited interest in work that doesn’t have a reasonably quick turn-around for their effort. If you think they are looking for the next Hemmingway or Faulkner, think again. They are looking for the next Dan Brown. That is not a pejorative – because the later is their job, the former is the job of your editor.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?

The true art of writing is the art of rewriting.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

More than one college professor used to elevate style over the story. Style is like (if you are a fisherman) the way you cast out your line. It is learned through repetition, personal preference, individual personality, and then just plain crafting and re-crafting. But the telling of the story has to be preeminent. Picking the story is like choosing the lake or stream where you want to spend the rest of the day.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

I somehow have the feeling that the days of publishers spending time with writers in an effort to develop their potential are over – with a few exceptions. Perhaps those “good old days” didn’t exist, though I have reason to think otherwise.

What do you wish you’d known early in your career that might have saved you some time and/or frustration in writing? In publishing?

In writing: at first, keep your story slim and linear, and then, with more and more books, expand them (rather than the other way around).

In publishing: remember it is a business, not an art form.

Was there ever a difficult set back that you went through in your writing career?

Every book I have written, because I have had to still manage a full-time day job as a lawyer at the same time, has been like child birth, joy in the morning (but preceded by bouts of agony).

What are a few of your favorite books?

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. Most of the Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle. And Lost Horizon by James Hilton.

What work have you done that you’re especially proud of and why?

I felt good about Missing Witness because I think I fairly successfully told two legal stories – separated by 300 years but interwoven – simultaneously. I think Trial by Ordeal was one of my better story-telling experiences.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has spoken to you lately in regards to your writing?

Ecclesiastes 12:12 – “the writing of many books is endless …” I think the Lord wants quality, not quantity.

Do you pattern your books off real cases?

Yes and no. In every one of them I can point to one or more cases that “inspired” the story, but very soon the real cases are nothing but an emotional motivation for the writing, rather than the plot line.

What triggers a new book idea for you?

Many times current events that converge with my own experiences. Or something I will read about a fact, or some news item, or a bit of obscure research somewhere, and after I plant it in my mind, something starts growing.

Are you an SOTP (seat of the pants) writer or a plotter?

Definitely a plotter – but not so precise that I can’t end up surprising myself with the way some elements turn out in the story.

How do you balance your time as a busy lawyer with your writing?

I set very demanding ultimate goals – but try to stay flexible on a day-to-day basis. For me, the initial research and character ‘bios’ and plot construction are the hardest. Once I get a framework for the story, then the writing comes pretty easy. I try to write almost every work day. I can usually predict where I will have some blocks of time where I will have a series of full days to really do intensive writing; but usually it is accomplished in bits and pieces.

How do you keep your writing on track with the interruptions your law practice creates?

This used to drive me crazy. But necessity is truly the mother of invention for me – I simply tried to buckle down and write in a series of changing circumstances, and after the first few books, it started becoming easier to write in the midst of interruptions. One of the things that helped me was the epiphany that there wasn’t that “perfect” paragraph or chapter out there if I could simply get the time and quietude to find it. In fact, with interruptions, I sometimes found myself backtracking on what I had started, and decided that it wasn’t any good, and so I headed off in a different direction. Interruptions can occasionally be fruitful and positive.

Can you give us a look into a typical day for you?

No. Because there have been so few “typical” days. Looking back, I can say that each of my novels was written under different circumstances and under different stresses. In one case I was doing a lot of driving in my car for weeks on end. So I taught myself to dictate the rough-out of chapters on a tape recorder while I drove. In other cases I had the time to spend several hours a day at my keyboard in relative quiet. In other times when I was doing a lot of traveling by air plane I found that writing in long hand on a yellow pad in an airport was very productive.

Do you have a word or page goal you set for each day?

Not really. Rather, I know how many months it is going to take me to write the book. Then I extrapolate backwards in terms of an average out put per month. Then, as I get into the process, I try to write into my calendar a certain number of chapters, or re-writes, for each day that I can predict having some writing time. The process is always being adjusted a little because of the other demands from my other work.

What author do you especially admire and why?

I admired the focused restraint of Hemingway’s style, but saw his world view as utterly bankrupt and hopeless. I also was very attracted to elegant prose style of a writer by the name of Paul Horgan. But there again, I am talking about some aspect of their ability – not their character as a writer. For me, “admiration” is reserved for a real pioneer in Christian fiction writing – John Bunyon. He had very little in terms of shoulders to climb up on. But his use of fiction and allegory as a means of communicating Biblical truth is still (in my opinion) almost without parallel.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

Favorite part – after I have shaped the story in my mind, know my characters well, and I have already knocked off a number of chapters and the inertia is starting to build.

Least favorite part – all of the marketing energy that has to go into each book, where I naively continue to hope (as I always do) that it would simply build its own audience by some act of supernatural magnetism.

How much marketing do you do? What's your favorite part of marketing?

A lot. Partly because I think I have a better feel for the book, and the way in which it can be described to the public than do the marketing folks. On the other hand, I am often surprised that their ideas are better than mine. For me, the “fun” part of marketing is coming up with the initial marketing “concept” for the book, including the cover.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Write what you know, of course. But also know what you write. Have a true, objective sense for how some stranger, who doesn’t know you, will respond to what you have written. Will your creative intentions connect with his/her life experience? Constantly ask yourself – “does this piece of writing really speak truth?”

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Go Robin!!!!

Big news in the blogosphere. Check it out and let our girl know how excited you are for her.

Today's Best of Evil Contest Winner is . . .

Heather Ivester!

Heather has won autographed copies of Kathryn Mackel's, The Hidden and The Departed. (I haven't had the chance to read The Hidden yet (Gina talking) but The Departed was most excellent. Kathy is a fantastic writer!

Book Description:
"A dark ravine. A fiery death. An unimaginable secret. Some things are best left hidden.
Grieving her son's death, psychiatrist Susan Stone returns home to Colorado to help her elderly father manage his horse-breeding business. After the botched delivery of a prized foal, Susan rides wildly into the mountains, seeking release from consuming guilt. Thrown from her horse, she tumbles into a dark ravine and makes a startling discovery--a young man, chained in the darkness.

This novel will forever alter your perception of the darkness of evil and the light of forgiveness and hope."


Book Description:
"Unexplained voices. Desperate apparitions. A dangerous coven of witches. Welcome toThe Other Side.
Joshua Lazarus and his wife, Maggie, are reeling from the overnight success of his new television show, starring Joshua as a medium--passing messages to the audience from their dearly departed. It's all a sham, of course--but when strange voices begin to haunt him without relief, and ghosts seemingly cry out to him for help, he realizes he's involved with forces he never believed existed. As Joshua and Maggie try to make sense of the visitations, a closer, more visible force is preparing to attack.

Between the killer who hunts Joshua and the pervasive occult presence in Raven, Massachusetts, no one close to him is safe. On the brink of being consumed alive, Maggie and Joshua must fight for their lives--and their souls.

Tomorrow we'll be giving away copies of Trial by Ordeal by Craig Parshall and Widows & Orphans by Susan Meissner. To enter to win, leave a comment under today's interview.